Tips & Tricks

3 Tips on Staying Entertained With Far Away Friends and Family

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Over a year has passed since we have been under some form of lockdown and reduced social life. With the vaccinations being delivered, the restrictions slowly lifting or at least tantalising us with the possibility of it, we are itching to go out with people. Of course, having the COVID vaccine doesn’t mean you cannot transmit or get it but at least you have a better chance of surviving it. Nonetheless, we are at the cusp of regaining our freedom in relative safety and yet we still have to wait a bit until we are all vaccinated (or almost all). So, to keep you safely indoors for a tad longer we have a few recommendations of things we have done throughout the pandemic to keep our social lives alive and stay connected with family and friends. In this article you can find three online social things you can do with family and friends that will spice up the virtual room.

Teleparty

If you are a fan of Netflix as I am, you may find a series or movie you would like to watch with a friend or loved one. You can use Teleparty, a Google Chrome extension you can install into your chrome browser. This allows you to share your screen with Netflix on and has an integrated chat room. This is nifty if you have access to content because you are in a country that has it and your friends who are in another country don’t. As long as the host of the Teleparty has access to the content they can share it. It also works with other streaming services such as HBO, Hulu, and Disney+.

Teleparty-chrome-extension
Teleparty is a free Chrome extension.

Game Sets

The gaming world has been ever increasing, and I don’t just mean games for game consoles but board games and virtual versions of games. Some, like Jackbox Party Packs, have been developed to play in your living room with your TV and phones. With the pandemic limiting gatherings, we have used many of their games successfully on virtual group calls. We highly recommend Drawful, Quiplash, and Trivia Murder Party. They have been repeatedly requested in the family virtual reunions. There are many other games in their sets but not all work well in a virtual chat setting.  If like me, you have family that don’t necessarily speak English then you may want a more customizable option which the next recommendation can fulfill.

Pub Quizzes

It has been a very long time since I have attended a live pub, let alone a pub quiz. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of random facts like me, you will enjoy preparing one for your friends and family. There are many digital quizzing apps out there. There are apps that already have the trivia questions but language may be limited to a couple or one (ie. English). You can also use educational tools like Kahoot or Socrative where you can make your own questions. Don’t be deterred by the fact they are used and branded as educational tools. You choose the questions so they can be as silly as you want them to be to ensure some laughter in your meetup. You can also build up some excitement beforehand by telling the attendees to dress-up or have a themed cocktail at hand. Anything that makes them do things outside of their routine will make the event feel special.

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A behind-the-scenes shot of Kahoot in use during a Fun Times Friday Online Pub Quiz

We started using Kahoot as an excuse to get the family together online and do something. We enjoyed it so much that we have decided to use it for some of our new live online events on Twitch. Every two weeks on a Friday we host a live pub quiz free to anyone wanting to join. You can participate by joining the Kahoot quiz and answer questions the host, Emma Holmes, has come up with. The advantage of doing your own questions is that you can make them as quirky, or relevant to your audience. You can write them in your preferred language which is especially useful when you have family members across the globe that may not speak English. 

If you are feeling a bit nervous about finding trivia or making it fun enough I’ve got you covered. Here are some tips from Emma who has been creating the pub quizzes for the online shows:

  1. Know your answers. There is, in my (Emma) book, nothing worse than hearing an interesting answer or piece of trivia and then left hanging because the host doesn’t know anything about it. Know a little bit about each answer and share it with your audience. I keep all my interesting trivia linked to the correct answer on my clipboard, that way they take away a little something. Cliffhangers are for novels and series. 
  2. Read the questions and the answers out loud. On kahoot, which I use, you have the choice between four answers. I always enthusiastically read the question to my audience and the answer options. Otherwise an odd silence falls as everyone reads and responds and to be honest, it’s a bit of a buzzkill.
  3. You are the life of the party. The host sets the tone for the quiz. The more upbeat you are the more excited your audience will be.
  4. Think outside of the box. Try and think of alternative categories or question styles. We all know the true-or-false and the multiple-choice, etc, but what about a “which is bigger round” or a “which movie is written in emojis round”. Spread a few of these throughout the normal trivia and it’ll give your pub quiz a real kick!
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Host Emma Holmes testing a question of the "Will it float?" round: the egg.

I can only imagine how eager you must be to be out and about in the world, meeting friends and family, but hang in there a bit longer. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, in the meantime try out some of the different ways you can rekindle your social life online.

About the Author

Sarah-Haimes-portrait

Sarah Haimes

Is an avid nature lover and scientist who is always looking for ways to combine arts and science for educational purposes (and for fun).